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Why trainers need to give stuff away for free to gain clients

One of the biggest hurdles that personal trainers face when starting out is obtaining clients. Once you gain traction, your business tends to speak for itself.

But convincing people to buy what you are selling can prove to be incredibly difficult when you’re first starting out.

That’s why you need to start giving seem stuff away for free.

Wait, what?

Yes, it’s counter-intuitive.

But giving away free stuff is one of the fastest and most effective ways to gain paying customers, or in this case clients.

I’ve attended many large fitness expos as a consumer. As you walk around those monster events, you come across so many different kinds of booths. Apparel companies, supplements, physical therapy, resistance bands, protein bars, the list goes on.

As a consumer, you are drawn to a booth for one of 3 reasons:

  1. The product looks so magical that you just have to check it out
  2. There is a celebrity or person you want to meet at the booth
  3. They have free stuff

I never conducted an official survey, but I’d say 99% of businesses that attend these expos would tell you that free samples are the single most effective way to gain foot traffic, which leads to sales.

This may be glaringly obvious to you in a situation such as this. If you have a booth and are selling protein bars, it’s going to be difficult to sell them without allowing people to taste them first. Clearly.

You don’t care about fitness expos right now, though. You care about selling online.

Does giving stuff away for free apply to online businesses? You bet your buns it does.

The same way foot traffic at a fitness expo leads to more sales for a business, web traffic to your site leads to more online sales for your business.

I’ll address the elephant in the room here. For transparency’s sake, let’s look at what you’re reading right now.

This blog post, and the others on this site, are posted with no strings attached. The information provided is {I hope} valuable to trainers out there, and anyone is welcome to take the information and do whatever they want with it.

Now, I write this content because I truly want to help other fitness professionals.

But I’d be lying to you if I told you this was not also a marketing strategy.

By giving away information for free, the hope is that at least one person will see the knowledge and value I can bring to their business. My posts only scratch the surface, but there’s so much deeper we can dive to produce results, and that’s what my business offers.

99% of people reading this will have absolutely no interest in working with me in any facet, and that is totally fine! But by giving away this material for free, it allows people to learn about me and what I can offer.

Without these free resources, I’m just another face in the crowd.

So what can you start giving away? For most fitness trainers, I highly recommend starting a blog if you haven’t already. A blog allows you to share with the world your knowledge on a variety of subjects. As people read your posts, you begin to build trust. Once you become a go-to source for information, the likelihood that they will become a client or customer skyrockets. If you produce enough quality content, it will also get shared.

I’m a big fan of the programs and resources that produces. I know that I am not alone there. It’s no coincidence that I also buy products through them!

Once your content begins to get shared, you’re gaining free marketing. Pretty cool, huh?

But what about physical products?

Giving away something tangible does two very important things for your business:

  1. It gets people talking.
  2. It provides you with free, continuous marketing.

An article in the Journal of Marketing found that people who received a product for free talked about it 20% more. The power of social media cannot be overstated. A buzz on social media, no matter how big or small, can be significantly more effective than traditional marketing.

When I saw one of my friends bragging about a new high-protein ice cream they tried that tastes incredible (yes, it’s Halo Top. And yes, it’s awesome. Expensive, but awesome.) I immediately went on a hunt to find the product. And once I tasted it, there was no going back.

If that company gave away that product for free, they gained a life-long customer in me through it. By sacrificing a $3 profit, they gained about 1000% that by acquiring a new, life-long customer (I buy a lot of ice cream).

T-shirts are another powerful example. You don’t need to be an apparel company to get some cheap t-shirts printed with your logo on them. People go nuts over free t-shirts.

I haven’t done the research to find out why, but a shirt can say absolutely anything and as long as it’s free, people will want it.

I once snagged a free t-shirt that said “I (peach emoji) girls who squat”. I never wore it and I didn’t end up holding onto it for very long. But…it was free.

The point- if it’s free, people will want it. Once someone has it, they will wear it. And whenever they wear it, it’s free advertising for your business.

Give out a few t-shirts, and you’ve got walking billboards all over the place. Not a bad deal.

By now you’ve probably started to think about what you can give away for free to help your own business.

As a personal trainer, throw together an informative blog post about something you feel passionate about. Maybe that topic is nutrition, and you want to debunk some nutrition myths that drive you crazy. Or, maybe you want to share your favorite shoulder workout with your audience. Throw it together as a blog post if you currently have a blog, or a Facebook post if you’re utilizing social media. Heck, you can do both. Just get the information out there in a way that is sharable.

If you sell physical products (apparel, supplements, etc), reach out to influencers in your space with a fairly large following. Offer them some products for free in exchange for a post and/or honest review of your products. Very rarely will a person turn down free stuff! Followers of that person trust them, so if they get behind your product, you’ve got an incredibly powerful, free advertisement.

Give it some time this week to think about what you could give away for your business.

It may be tough at first, but give it a try. You won’t break the bank giving away some products for free, and the benefits far outweigh the risk involved.

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